The Ultimate Indians Draft: Rounds 51-41
Welcome to the Ultimate Indians Draft, a series of articles here at the IBI where I pick the best draft picks in Indians history round by round.
The way I went about this piece was to try and figure out who were the greatest players selected by the Indians in their entire draft history. I settled on using the June selection since it is the only one still around, so this does leave out some players of note like Chris Chambliss and Duane Kuiper. The reason I didn’t use these drafts is that they were in general not as deep as the June draft, not to mention the fact the last January draft was in 1986, so it seemed logical to focus on the main phase still used today.
Now when it comes to judging who would be the top player, I kept it simple, especially with these late round picks. If a player was drafted and signed by the Indians, then he would rank higher than a great talent who never signed with the Indians. The best picks are the ones who helped the Indians. In many cases, especially with these late picks, the best player is often the one who got away.
So here we go, and to start things off we look at the all-time Indians draft picks from rounds 41-51. I am stopping at 41 since the draft is now only 40 picks long, so every player listed here will be the Indians greatest selection for the rest of their draft history.
51. Carlos Crawford, RHP
Drafted in 1990, Montreat College
The Indians have selected nine players in the 51st round, and only one made it to the majors. Crawford pitched in one game in his MLB career for the Phillies in 1996. It didn’t go so well, and that was it for him, as he pitched in the minors for a few more years. Yet just pitching those 3.2 innings make him the best player the Indians selected in the 51st round. He put up okay numbers between Double-A and Triple-A in 1995, but the Indians waived him and he was claimed by the Phillies. He has played in more games in the majors than most of the Indians first rounder’s for the last 20 years.
Honorable Mentions: Outfielder John Eierman (1988) lasted four years in the minors with the Red Sox, right-handed pitcher Dean Mitchell (1993) lasted six years in the minors with the Dodgers and Rangers, and catcher Casey Smith (1996) lasted five years in the minors with the Indians.
50. John Gall, 1B
Drafted in 1999, Stanford
The Indians have selected 24 players with the 50th selection and only one made the majors. The good news for Gall is he had a Stanford education to fall back on. It’s not easy for a 50th rounder to make the majors, but Gall did, playing in 33 games over three seasons with the Cardinals and the Marlins. The Indians failed to sign him in 1999 and he was drafted in the 11th round by the Cardinals the next year. In spite of a negative career WAR (-0.1) he is the best player the Indians ever selected at 50 because at least he made it to the show.
Honorable Mentions: Catcher Doug Pickens (2007) lasted four seasons in the minors with the Indians, second baseman Omar Moraga (1998) lasted four seasons in the minors, first baseman Darnell Sanders (1997) went on to play three years of pro football after playing at Ohio State.
49. Burch Smith, RHP
Drafted in 2009, Howard College
The Indians have selected 24 players with the 49th pick and three made it to the majors. All three of those players never signed with the Indians. Smith has the worst WAR of the three, but I like his long term potential and he seems to have a good chance to outshine the other two players. Smith pitched in 10 games last year for the Padres. His numbers didn’t look great, but he will have every chance to make the Padres rotation next season.
48. Vidal Nuno, LHP
Drafted in 2009, Baker University
The Indians have selected 37 players in the 48th round and only one has made it to the majors. Nuno was released by the Indians after his 2010 season, and after a bout in independent ball the Yankees signed him and he debuted for them in 2013. He posted strong numbers in five games for them, and should have a chance going forward as a long reliever or lefty pen arm.
Honorable Mentions: Third baseman Walter Diaz (2007) played two years and was a folk legend among minor league fans, right-handed pitcher Travis Turek (2006) spent five seasons in the minors, right-handed pitcher Jay Vaught (1990) was redrafted in 1994 in the 10th round and made it to Double-A, second baseman RD Long (1989) made it to Triple-A with the Yankees.
47. Dave Roberts, OF
Drafted in 1993, University of California
The Indians have selected 27 players in the 47th round, and only one made it to the majors. Roberts didn’t sign with the Indians and the next year was taken by the Tigers, who would trade him to Cleveland where his major league career would begin. He is far and away the most valuable player thus far, and the only one who ever became a regular in the majors. He is an interesting player because he didn’t make the majors until he was 27 years old and didn’t get a chance to start until he was 30. Yet, he still had three years with a WAR over two, making him a solid starter.
Honorable Mentions: Right-handed pitcher Denny Wagner (1994) went to college and became a first round pick, lasted for seven years, and made it to Triple-A, outfielder Gus Milner (2005) made it to Triple-A and lasted seven years.
46. Blake Davis, SS
Drafted in 2005, California State Fullerton
There have been 28 players selected by the Indians in the 46th round and the only one to make the majors is Davis. The Indians drafted and failed to sign him. The Orioles drafted him the next year in the 4th round. He made it to the majors in 2011 and played in 25 games. He was with the Orioles organization through 2012. His bat kept him from ever getting a long look in the majors.
Honorable Mentions: Outfielder Bill Bright (1967) was drafted six times and in time became a first rounder and made it to Triple-A and played seven years, right-handed pitcher Todd Pennington (2001) made it to Double-A and lasted four seasons, right-handed pitcher Rob Nixon (2011) made it to Double-A, has lasted three years and is still with the Indians.
45. Tony Sipp, LHP
Drafted in 2004, Clemson
The Indians have drafted 28 players in the 45th round and two have made it to the majors. Sipp is the first of the players profiled who the Indians drafted, signed, and played for them in the majors. He has had an up and down career, but it should still be a long one since he is a lefty who throws hard. He has never quite lived up to his promise, but is an excellent pick as a serviceable major leaguer this late.
Honorable Mentions: Right-handed pitcher Jeff Plympton (1984) made the majors with the Red Sox pitching in four games and lasted seven years in the minors, outfielder Truan Mehl (2002) lasted four years in the minors and made it to High-A.
44. Damian Jackson, SS
Drafted in 1991, High School
There have been 30 players selected by the Indians in the 44th round, and three have made it to the majors. Jackson was one of the best picks of the 90’s. He was one of the big pieces in the John Smiley deal in 1997. At one point he was a top 100 prospect in baseball. He played in the majors for 11 seasons, and numbers-wise he kind of reminds me of Jose Ramirez. Half of his career he was an everyday player thanks to his speed and defense.
Honorable Mentions: Right-handed pitcher Alberto Garza (1995) was at one point a top ten prospect and lasted eight years making it to Double-A, infielder Shanie Dugas (1980) lasted ten years and made it to Triple-A, first baseman Chan Perry (1994) spent 10 seasons in the minors and two years in the majors where he played in 25 games, right-handed pitcher Garrett Mock (2001) pitched in the majors in parts of three years in a total of 55 games for the Nationals though has a negative WAR for his career.
43. Cody Ransom, SS
Drafted in 1995, South Mountain Community College
The Indians have drafted 31 players in the 43rd round and only one has made it to the majors. The Indians drafted Ransom in 1995 but failed to sign him. He would be drafted three years later by the Giants. He made the majors with them in 2001 and would go on to play in 383 games over 11 seasons with eight different teams. He actually had good power but his batting average was always low and it kept him from being a starter in the majors.
Honorable Mentions: Right-handed pitcher Mike McGuire (2008) lasted four years in the minors and made it to High-A, no other player lasted four years in the minors.
42. Tim Lincecum, RHP
Drafted in 2005, University of Washington
The Indians have selected 32 players with the 42nd pick and Lincecum is the only player to make the majors. In 2005 he was the 1,261st player selected and just one year later he went 10th overall. He won back to back CY Young’s and made four All Star games, until the wheels came off at age 28. He got a monster extension this offseason but the last two years he has been a shell of the pitcher he once was. Still, he has generated a higher WAR than any pick during the Shapiro era.
Honorable Mentions: Right-handed pitcher Dickie Brown (1989) lasted seven years in the minors and got to Double-A, infielder Blake Whealy (1998) was redrafted by the Mets in 2002 and lasted five years in the minors and made it to High-A.
41. Eric Crozier, 1B
Drafted in 2000, Norfolk State
The Indians have selected 32 players in the 41st round and Crozier is the only one to make the majors. He played in 14 games for the Blue Jays in 2004. He had great home run totals in the minors which lead to him being traded for Josh Phelps. For those who have forgotten, Phelps was a catcher with good power and lackluster defense. As for Crozier, he played 11 years in the minors with eight different organizations, yet he was never able to replicate his 2003 and 2004 seasons he had in the Indians minors and never got close to the majors again.
Honorable Mentions: Left-handed pitcher Mike Spiegel (1995) lasted nine seasons in the minors and pitched several years in Double-A and Triple-A, no one else lasted four years or more in the minors.
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